Wednesday, June 03, 2009

3 JUN 09: Tellers Tell the Tale

Ahhhhh - now I get it. When someone stole that automated teller on Whitesville Road a couple of weeks ago, it was symbolism. Columbus just stole hundreds or thousands more, from a city in Ohio....

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday Columbus will gain nearly 900 new jobs over five years, from a new NCR plant making automated tellers. Working at a place like this would have some advantages. For one thing, the change machines in the break room never should break down.

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce calls NCR plant the largest job start-up in city history. That apparently means LaGrange and West Point now can claim the Kia plant all to themselves.

While automated tellers will be made in Columbus, NCR is moving its corporate headquarters to the Atlanta suburb of Duluth. So when you text your friends about this news, tell them we get NCR ATMs, but no HQ.

NCR will take over the building in the Corporate Ridge industrial park where Panasonic Batteries used to be. One evening newscast even showed a street sign for Panasonic Drive. It reminded me a bit of the company's old slogan - only now Panasonic is just slightly BEHIND our time.

A statement from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce says NCR is coming here to make the next wave of automated tellers. For instance, you'll soon be able to make deposits at an ATM without using an envelope. This will be big news for the two percent of bank customers who actually use ATMs to make deposits.

Production of the new automated tellers is expected to begin this October, so NCR will begin taking applications online today. In true ATM tradition, I assume you'll only need to enter a four-digit password....

Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington went to Atlanta, for the NCR announcement by Governor Perdue. He was joined by NCR Chairman and C.E.O. Bill Nuti. I assume back home in Ohio, his last name is being pronounced "nutty."

The Dayton Daily News reports many NCR employees there are "very upset" about the planned move to Georgia. In part, it's because the company never said a shift in the headquarters was coming. And I suspect it's in part because many employees only know about Georgia from watching "Designing Women" and "Carter Country."

A bidding war erupted in the last couple of days to keep NCR from moving its headquarters from Ohio to Georgia. Ohio's governor offered an incentives plan worth $31 million. But the Dayton Daily news reports Georgia offered more than $60 million. So it's a bit like when Ted Turner owned Atlanta's baseball team....

The biggest incentive from Georgia to NCR reportedly is a "megatax" credit, worth more than $56 million. So much for that argument against the Muscogee County school sales tax.

One area where Dayton's loss could be Columbus's gain involves nonprofit organizations. NCR has a history of making big gifts to the United Way and performing arts groups. So if the cash registers at the Springer Opera House suddenly look different, you'll know why.

But some NCR employees say the move from Ohio to Georgia is overdue. Did you know Forbes magazine listed Dayton last year as one of the "fastest-dying cities" in the U.S.? Even one Ohio blogger has claimed Dayton has "no justification for existence." No wonder he writes with a pseudonym....

If you know what the letters NCR mean, you're showing your age. I stumped some people Tuesday by explaining the company was founded in the 19th century as National Cash Register. At the Government Center and Chamber of Commerce, the initials meant something else Tuesday - Now Columbus is Recovering.

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BLOG UPDATE: Well, what do you know -- Tuesday's Ledger-Enquirer reported on the one-year suspension of Principal Phyllis Jones's teaching certificate. So did the Associated Press. Given what we posted last Friday, do you think I should take this as a compliment? Or should I spend a little money on a public relations firm?

Let's see what else made news on Tuesday....

+ The new Mildred Terry branch library opened on Veterans Parkway. Trouble is, Sunya Walls on WLTZ's "11 @ 11" called it the Mildred TAYLOR library. Wasn't she on the old Andy Griffith Show?

+ The Alabama Public Service Commission voted to reduce Alabama Power rates about two percent, because fuel costs have gone down. Yes, the rates were reduced - so don't give up hope for the Phenix City Council quite yet.

+ The Opelika City Council discussed whether to replace Charter Cable with a city-run cable TV and Internet service. I thought Opelika was a bit more conservative than Auburn - and didn't borrow ideas from the Chinese government about how to handle the Internet.

+ Auburn University began an internal investigation of "Big Cat weekend." The football team may have violated NCAA rules by bringing in potential football players for a party at Toomer's Corner, which featured Aubie the mascot. If only Aubie had taken a summer vacation in Detroit....

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: FREE root beer floats at Sonic after 8:00 p.m.... FREE admission for Little Leaguers and parents at the Columbus Woodbats' opening game.... and my T-shirt getting very sweaty, to celebrate today's National Running Day....

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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